Families and Domestic Violence

Module Sections:

Myths and Truth about Abuse

The following myths and facts about why domestic violence occurs have been adapted from the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (2008):

  1. Myth-The abuser is out of control
    Truth- the abuser is in control. The abuser decides who to abuse, when and where, the parts of the body to abuse and the length and severity of the episode. The abuser may remove rings or a belt as a signal or threaten the victim what he or she is going to do.
  2. Myth- Abuser has poor anger control.
  3. Truth- Many abusers admit to calmly planning violent incidents and most batterers are able to control their emotions when on the job, with friends, in court or when dealing with the police.
  4. Myth- Abusers experience stress.
  5. Truth-Abusers do not experience more stress than non abusers do. They choose to deal with their stress violently. Abusers usually believe they have the right to control and get their way.
  6. Myth- Abusers have low self esteem.
  7. Truth- Abusers do not differ from non abusers in their level of self esteem. The difference lies in the abusers belief system regarding women and children. The problem is the permission abusers give themselves to control and hurt other people.
  8. Myth- Domestic violence is caused by substance abuse of the perpetrator.
  9. Truth- Getting sober and into a program does not stop the abuse or the violence and being an alcoholic may be used to sidestep responsibility for abusive behavior. Substance abuse is another way for an abuser not to be held responsible. Getting sober is in fact the first step to dealing with issues of power and control. Studies show that frequent alcohol and drug use is not associated with domestic violence and sexual assault (Schewe, Riger, Howard, stags, & Mason, 2006).
  10. Myth- Abusers have a history of abuse from childhood.
  11. Truth- Many abusers were abused as children, but some choose not to abuse.
  12. Myth- Abusers abuse due to poor communication skills.
  13. Truth- This is a form of victim-blaming. Abusers demand that their needs be met before the needs of all others. Even when victims meet the needs of abusers, they continue to abuse.
  14. Myth- Abusers need to learn non-violence.
  15. Truth- Abusers know non violence. The problem is not their inability to resolve conflict in a non- violent manner, but their unwillingness to do so.

Audio Companion: Families and Domestic Violence